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Coming Home for Swiftwater Rescue

November 6, 2015

As a student working the outdoor programs at UNC-Asheville, Nathan Staples applied for a Wall Scholarship for Outdoor Student Leaders through the Landmark Foundation. Here is his reflection on his course this past July:


"When I took my SWR course in Bryson City, NC on the Tuckasegee River it was like I had returned home. Section 3 of the Tuck is the first place where I began to develop my whitewater kayaking skills, so in the cosmic realm of fate it made sense that I would return to learn a solid foundation of SWR techniques. I could only think about how the course would make me a more aware paddler and whitewater trip leader.


For the entire weekend I was fortunate enough to be in a group of students that was small and worked together nicely, which I feel helped me learn more from the course instructor and my peers. Although I was probably the least experienced paddler of the bunch there was never a moment where I felt irrelevant, and I appreciated the environment and conversations that were facilitated by the instructor. A lot of the skills I learned were intuitive and familiar from previous experiences, but it felt nice to have more formal instruction on them. The sections on mechanical advantage and the z-drag were new to me, but are now easy to recognize and adopt.


The entire time I was thinking about the purpose of participating in a SWR course. I wanted to understand what the course meant and to know how to use its skills effectively. At some point I began to think earning a WMI WFR certification was a similar experience; both courses confer a sort of stewardship. To learn and practice the skills makes a recreationalist and any outdoor leader more responsible for their friends in adventure and for themselves." 


-Nathan Staples

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